History of Women and Cannabis

History of Women and Cannabis

We’ve been celebrating Women’s History Month at Garden Remedies all March long, to showcase the women that define our company—and continue to carry it forward

On behalf of the whole Garden Remedies team, our appreciation goes out to everyone who participated in the celebrations. Like to Brianna Carbonaro, seen above, who led the Women’s History Month initiative at our Newton dispensary! Thank you so much Brianna

To reflect on the occasion, our newest writer here at has been thinking about women that have impacted the culture of cannabis—and how often history is twisted to downplay their contributions

Her post is found right below this note, and lists women that have done something to shape our understanding of this magical plant, and to support its crucial place in all our lives. 

What other women would make your own list of historically significant smokers? Follow, respond, or share this post on Instagram, Twitter, and other social feeds to let us know!


Let’s face it, “stoner culture” has always been something of a boy’s club. If I asked you to list the most famous cannabis users, who comes to mind? Maybe Bob Marley or Cheech and Chong… older generations might think of Hollywood icon Robert Mitchum… millennials probably go with comedian and ceramicist Seth Rogen… and so on.  

But the fact is that women have been partaking for just as long, and just as often, as men have. And for good reasons! While cannabis has countless benefits, some of those benefits are specific to matters that women commonly struggle with. And this fact wasn’t lost on women with access to cannabis throughout most of recorded time. 

Even while this boy’s club of smokers took hold, many of the most culturally significant contributions to cannabis have come from women. Don’t believe me? Let’s walk through a list of well-known women who have qualified for the title of “stoner” during the past half-century or so, and even into the present day:  


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou did a lot of things in her life. She was an incredibly prolific writer, an actress, a director, a civil rights activist, and—on top of all that—the first Black female streetcar conductor in San Francisco. But did you know: She also smoked!

In her bestselling 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou described her first experience smoking a joint.

“The food was the best I’d ever tasted,” she writes. “Every morsel was an experience of sheer delight. Smoking grass eased the strain for me. … People called it Mary Jane, hash, grass, gauge, weed, pot, and I had absolutely no fear of using it.”

The positive effect cannabis had on her life is evident in the book, and familiar to anyone who finds weed to be an excellent way to relax.

Like for another example, when she describes how “from a natural stiffness I melted into a grinning tolerance. Walking on the streets became high adventure, eating my mother’s huge dinners an opulent entertainment, and playing with my son was side-cracking hilarity. For the first time, life amused me.”


Margaret Mead

When Margaret Mead died in 1978, she was the most famous anthropologist in the world. Her book Coming of Age in Samoa was the first to theorize that our experience of childhood and subsequent development is shaped by the culture we live in—an idea that fueled the sexual and feminist revolution of the sixties.

But Mead also became a controversial figure for her views on marijuana, even getting called a “dirty old lady” by the governor of Florida at the time!

In 1969, she testified to Congress to advocate for cannabis decriminalization, saying “The young, instead of surreptitiously tasting the wicked joys reserved for adults—coffee, tobacco, and alcohol, which they will later be permitted to use, or righteously forswear—have chosen a different drug, marijuana.”

It should come as no great shock to learn that one year later, she admitted to Newsweek that she had tried cannabis before!


Alice B. Toklas

Toklas is best known as the life partner of writer Gertrude Stein, and the subject of Stein’s most successful book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. The pair spent their days in the midst of the early 20th century’s Parisian arts crowd, in a scene that included Matisse, Hemingway, Picasso, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  

But outside her role in that artistic movement, Toklas played a big role in the culture’s view of marijuana. After Stein’s death, Toklas published The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook—which included an infamous recipe for “hashish fudge.”

The recipe doesn’t include chocolate, but instead a mix of aromatic spices, dried fruit, nuts, sugar, and of course cannabis. Toklas describes it by writing “euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected.”

The recipe was a sensation and got her name-checked in the title of the late 60s stoner movie I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, where Peter Sellers plays a strait-laced attorney who gets completely zonked after eating too many brownies. Consume responsibly!

Frances McDormand

Yes, Frances McDormand, regular nominee for Best Actress award at the Academy Awards, is also a self-described “recreational pot-smoker.”

When McDormand was promoting the 2002 movie Laurel Canyon—where she plays Christian Bale’s mother and a free-spirited, pot-smoking record producer—she ended up on the cover of High Times, smoking a joint in a shirt with a cartoon pot leaf on it.

When asked about her thoughts on legalization, she said “from a medical point of view… I have friends who need to use it. Why should they have to look too hard for the thing that makes them better? So from that point of view, it’s like, ‘Please, what is the problem?’”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

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